I want to pick up the teaching about Biblical prophecy from the Biblical book of Daniel. As I wrote in some of the previous articles on Daniel, this book is the “blueprint” for all Biblical prophecy. The book of Daniel is like the skeleton of prophecy while the other prophetic books are the meat added to the bone (especially Revelation). We have seen that there are 4 major earthly kingdoms and one heavenly kingdom. All of the earthly kingdoms will pass away one day when the heavenly one is set up on this earth. The earthly kingdoms were represented as a statue in Daniel 2 and the heavenly kingdom like a stone, that crushes the statue at the feet and then turns into a mountain that fills the entire earth. We have even seen who these 4 kingdoms are based on Daniel 2 and Daniel 7. (Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, Rome) During Daniel’s lifetime he sees the first kingdom fall and the second comes into power. Now I would like to turn our attention to Daniel chapter 8 where much detail is given about the second and third kingdoms. One more quick note about the context of Daniel. The first 6 chapters of Daniel unfold chronologically. They are based on Daniel’s life under the Babylonian rule and the Medo-Persian rule.
- Chapter 2 – King Neb has a dream and God reveals both the dream and its interpretation to Daniel.
- Chapter 3– King Neb decides to thwart God’s plan and builds his own statue made entirely of gold. Everyone is to worship the statue but Daniel and his friends refuse. The 3 friends are thrown into a fiery furnace yet they survive.
- Daniel 4 – King Neb has another dream and Daniel interprets it with God’s wisdom. The dream comes true and King Neb loses his mind and lives like an animal for 7 years. Daniel 4 helps interpret the animal in Daniel 7 (lion with wings plucked off).
- Daniel 5 – the handwriting on the wall, fall of the Babylonian empire, rise of the Medo-Persian empire (just as Daniel 2 predicted years earlier)
- Daniel 6 – Daniel is thrown in the lions’ den and comes out alive
- Daniel 7-12 – new segment of the book. Now Daniel has the dreams and receives the interpretations. (chapters 7-9 are not chronological, chapter 7 actually happens before chapter 5).
Also as a way of review, let’s look at what we have learned from the dreams of chapter 2 and 7 of Daniel. Chapter 8 will add to this picture. In fact, chapters 2, 7, and 8 all continue the same picture that God has painted about the unfolding of the events of the entire human history. Most of what was prophesied by Daniel has already come to pass, having history confirm detail by detail the amazing sketch that God has drawn for us. There is just a little bit left to happen and it will happen soon.
b. Breasts and arms of silver(Daniel 2) = Bear(Daniel 7) = Medo-Persian Empire
c. Belly and thighs of bronze(Daniel 2) = Leopard(Daniel 7) = Greek Empire
d. Legs of iron(Daniel 2) = Beast(Daniel 7) = Roman Empire
- 2 Feet and 10 toes of iron and clay(Daniel 2) = 10 horns (kings) Daniel 7
- 1 horn arises and subdues 3 of the 10 (Daniel 7)
- the 1 horn speaks out against God and persecutes the Jews for 3 ½ years (Daniel 7)
e. Stone = Mountain(Daniel 2) = Ancient of Days(Daniel 7) = God’s kingdom
- Set up during the time of the 10 kings and the 1 king (Daniel 2 and Daniel 7)
- Never ending physical kingdom (Daniel 2 and Daniel 7)
First of all, it is very important to read chapter 8 in its entirety so that you can follow what the Scriptures teach and not just take my word for it. Here is a link to chapter 8 in its entirety. Now that you have read chapter 8 for yourself, let’s discuss what we have learned.
1 In the third year of the reign of Belshazzar the king a vision appeared to me, Daniel, subsequent to the one which appeared to me previously. 2 I looked in the vision, and while I was looking I was in the citadel of Susa, which is in the province of Elam ; and I looked in the vision and I myself was beside the Ulai Canal. (Daniel 8 )
This dream takes place during the Babylonian rule before the Medes and Persians form an alliance and overtake Babylon. This dream happens before chapter 5 (the handwriting on the wall). This is also before Phillip of Macedon unifies the Greek city-states and Alexander the Great leads the conquering of the Persian Empire. The Persian empire has not yet come into power. God reveals the immediate future to Daniel as well as events that Daniel will not live to see.
3 Then I lifted my eyes and looked, and behold, a ram which had two horns was standing in front of the canal. Now the two horns were long, but one was longer than the other, with the longer one coming up last. 4 I saw the ram butting westward, northward, and southward, and no other beasts could stand before him nor was there anyone to rescue from his power, but he did as he pleased and magnified himself. (Daniel 8 )
The details of the ram help us understand which empire this animal represents. There are 2 horns and one is longer than the other. In the other 2 dreams of Daniel 2 and 7, where have we seen 2 mentioned before and one of the 2 being longer (or larger) than the other? In Daniel 2 the second empire has 2 arms and in Daniel 7, the bear is raised up higher on one side than on the other. This ram is a continuation of the description of the 2nd kingdom which will arise. It will be inferior to the first although larger. Silver will be abundant. It will have 2 rulers, although one will dominate the other. We have seen from the previous lessons that this empire is the Medo-Persian empire formed out of an alliance between the Medes and the Persians and the Persians were the dominate of the 2. Do you see how precise the Word of God is? God gives very clear details about these empires. He does not give names but describes them and then history confirms what God has already described.
5 While I was observing, behold, a male goat was coming from the west over the surface of the whole earth without touching the ground ; and the goat had a conspicuous horn between his eyes. 6 He came up to the ram that had the two horns, which I had seen standing in front of the canal, and rushed at him in his mighty wrath. 7 I saw him come beside the ram, and he was enraged at him; and he struck the ram and shattered his two horns, and the ram had no strength to withstand him. So he hurled him to the ground and trampled on him, and there was none to rescue the ram from his power. (Daniel 8 )
This empire seemed unstoppable, but then a male goat came from the West (Greece lies to the West of Israel as well as the Persian Empire). He had extreme speed (flying over the surface of the earth). Do you remember the 3rd animal of Daniel 7? It was a leopard with 4 wings on its back. Do you see any connection to the two dreams? He had one long horn between his eyes. He was angry at the ram and rushed upon him. History tells us of the speed of Alexander the Great’s army as well as the anger he had toward the Persian empire for attacking his beloved Greece. The goat overtakes the ram and destroys him. History teaches us that the Greek army came from the west and defeated the Persian empire. There was one ruler at the time, Alexander the Great. The goat from the west has one long, powerful horn between its eyes with which it defeats the ram.
8 Then the male goat magnified himself exceedingly . But as soon as he was mighty, the large horn was broken ; and in its place there came up four conspicuous horns toward the four winds of heaven. (Daniel 8 )
The male goat magnified himself exceedingly (grew very large and powerful) but at the height of his power, his large horn was broken. At the age of 32 years old, after he had conquered an empire that stretched from Greece to Punjab, India, Alexander the Great died at the height of his power, just as the dream of Daniel chapter 8 predicts. Also, the kingdom is divided into 4 parts. History tells us that 5 of Alexander’s generals battled for the kingdom but it ended up being divided among 4 of them, just as God said it would be. Again, God gives us the details of what will happen and history confirms what God has already said. There is more.
9 Out of one of them came forth a rather small horn which grew exceedingly great toward the south, toward the east, and toward the Beautiful Land. 10 It grew up to the host of heaven and caused some of the host and some of the stars to fall to the earth, and it trampled them down. 11 It even magnified itself to be equal with the Commander of the host ; and it removed the regular sacrifice from Him, and the place of His sanctuary was thrown down. (Daniel 8 )
Out of one of those 4 horns (4 divisions of the empire) there will arise a small horn which will grow exceedingly. This horn will overtake the Beautiful land or Israel. He will trample on the people of Israel and he will make himself out to be God and take the position of the High Priest in Israel. He will stop the sacrifices and throw down the sanctuary. History teaches us that out of one of the 4 divisions of the Greek empire arose a man by the name of Antiochus IV Epiphanes. His name literally means “God manifested” the same description of Jesus Christ. This man decided that he was the earthly manifestation of God and wanted to be worshiped as God. He was angered by the fact that the Hebrews worshiped the One true God and not him so he took out his rage on the Hebrew people and their religion. He trampled on the Torah. He persecuted the priests. He made himself out to be the High Priest. He stopped the sacrifices. He shut down the temple. He is described in detail in Daniel 8:9-11. His time is limited and the exact amount of time that he has is revealed. (do not confuse this person with the little horn of chapter 7, they are 2 totally different people, one of them has come on the scene and done his damage, the little big horn of chapter 8, while the other is waiting to come, the little horn of chapter 7). How much time does Epiphanes have to work?
13 Then I heard a holy one speaking, and another holy one said to that particular one who was speaking, “How long will the vision about the regular sacrifice apply, while the transgression causes horror, so as to allow both the holy place and the host to be trampled ?” 14 He said to me, “For 2,300 evenings and mornings; then the holy place will be properly restored.” (Daniel 8 )
The expression 2,300 evenings and mornings is about 6.4 years (keeping in mind that the Hebrews count 360 days to a year). History confirms that fact that about 6.4 years after Epiphanes stops the sacrifices, the Maccabean Revolt takes place. The temple was retaken and re-dedicated on December 25 and is annually celebrated even today by the observance of Hanukkah.
As you can see, history has unfolded just as God said it would. Daniel knew what would happen in the future while we can look back and admire how God foretold His plan and then carried out every single detail. Do you realize that human history is really HIStory and that we are all participants in God’s plan? Have you bowed your knee in obedience to God? He will rule whether you accept Him or not so why not rule with Him by choosing to obey Him now?
By the way, maybe you think that I just added my own interpretation of the dream and that is not really what God meant when He sent the dream to Daniel. That is a good point. Here is the response. The Word of God is not vague, leaving us to “come up with” the interpretation. God gives the exact meaning of the dream in the latter half of the chapter. Read it for yourself and see. Here is the link.